Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10 NIV
I’m in Upper Manhattan today at our daughter’s and her husband’s apartment. The ladies have trusted me with watching my three year old granddaughter long enough for them to have breakfast together. For a three year old, love must be practical, so we have eaten strawberries together, watched approved cartoons, cuddled, and helped her build her train track, and find her favorite cars. She is a girly-girl but does have an older brother, so trains are what she knows.
They live not far from Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center – good news in case you have a medical emergency, but it also means that ambulances come throughout the night.
It made me think of the church and the disturbance of helping others. It really should be no disturbance to us if we are helping someone in need, but sometimes, like sirens in the middle of the night, we are so focused on ourselves that we complain about our inconvenience. I remember a “mature” Christian in our church several years ago who complained about the disruption of all the new Christians. He said, “They ask questions we already know the answers to. What we need is a class just for mature Christians so we are not slowed down by these new Christians.”
Think about that statement for a second. It makes us wonder just how “mature” this man really was, if he was too “mature” to help a new Christian grow in the Lord. The mark of Christian maturity is not just more knowledge on certain topics, but more love for others, more patience with others, and more compassion toward others.
The New Testament Christians were not obsessed with knowledge alone, but with a life of obedience that pleased God. The attitude of the heart was more important than the knowledge of the head alone. Love was not a philosophical pursuit but a compassion to help others. Of course, the greatest help we can ever be to someone is to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ and encourage them to trust in Christ. But it does not end there – friendship, encouragement, mutual celebration, and helps – all of these are also important.
So love in patience and compassion and in a practical way as well.